6
General Findings and Recommendations

General Finding 1. The committee was able to review only initial design documentation for BGCAPP, results of completed technical risk reduction program studies and tests, and presentations pertaining to the developing intermediate design. Nevertheless, it believes that, given an appropriate response to the findings and recommendations in this report and the favorable resolution of any problems uncovered by the studies and tests still in progress, a BGCAPP that is able to safely and effectively destroy the chemical agent and energetic materials in the chemical munitions at Blue Grass Army Depot can be anticipated. The basis for this optimistic assessment can be summarized as follows:

  • The chemical neutralization (hydrolysis) of GB, VX, and H has been extensively studied. The Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass team, in its technical risk reduction project (TRRP) 2a, is verifying the operating temperature and concentration of caustic for actual degraded GB. Both liquid and solid residues removed from M55 GB rockets processed at Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility are being used. In TRRP 2b, the team is performing a similar study for H. The operating conditions for VX were verified at Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility.

  • The newly designed systems for disassembling the projectiles and the rockets and for accessing the chemical agent in these munitions are up-to-date approaches that appear to be effective. The projectile line uses commercially available robots to handle the munitions. The rocket shear machine is a modification of the machine used in the baseline process. (The committee does note a concern: Cut number 4, which in rockets is made near the igniter, could result in inadvertent ignition of the propellant.) The high-pressure water washout removes all the solids and liquid agent from the projectile bodies, reducing the chemical agent load on the metal parts treater (MPT).

  • The MPT had already undergone some developmental testing by the time this report was being prepared. However, additional testing was needed to establish operating conditions for all feed streams. After completion of this testing, the MPT design is intended to be capable of decontaminating metal parts to a condition, making them suitable for unrestricted release.

  • Limited testing to date of the SCWO system indicates that it can be adequate for the treatment of agent and energetics hydrolysates at BGCAPP. However, there has been no testing of the BGCAPP SCWO system for the treatment of dunnage.

General Recommendation 1. PMACWA should continue with the existing design of BGCAPP and continue testing to address issues noted in the findings of this report.


General Finding 2. The safety of BGCAPP workers and the public is an integral part of the design and the planned operation of BGCAPP.



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OCR for page 58
Interim Design Assessment for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant 6 General Findings and Recommendations General Finding 1. The committee was able to review only initial design documentation for BGCAPP, results of completed technical risk reduction program studies and tests, and presentations pertaining to the developing intermediate design. Nevertheless, it believes that, given an appropriate response to the findings and recommendations in this report and the favorable resolution of any problems uncovered by the studies and tests still in progress, a BGCAPP that is able to safely and effectively destroy the chemical agent and energetic materials in the chemical munitions at Blue Grass Army Depot can be anticipated. The basis for this optimistic assessment can be summarized as follows: The chemical neutralization (hydrolysis) of GB, VX, and H has been extensively studied. The Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass team, in its technical risk reduction project (TRRP) 2a, is verifying the operating temperature and concentration of caustic for actual degraded GB. Both liquid and solid residues removed from M55 GB rockets processed at Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility are being used. In TRRP 2b, the team is performing a similar study for H. The operating conditions for VX were verified at Newport Chemical Agent Disposal Facility. The newly designed systems for disassembling the projectiles and the rockets and for accessing the chemical agent in these munitions are up-to-date approaches that appear to be effective. The projectile line uses commercially available robots to handle the munitions. The rocket shear machine is a modification of the machine used in the baseline process. (The committee does note a concern: Cut number 4, which in rockets is made near the igniter, could result in inadvertent ignition of the propellant.) The high-pressure water washout removes all the solids and liquid agent from the projectile bodies, reducing the chemical agent load on the metal parts treater (MPT). The MPT had already undergone some developmental testing by the time this report was being prepared. However, additional testing was needed to establish operating conditions for all feed streams. After completion of this testing, the MPT design is intended to be capable of decontaminating metal parts to a condition, making them suitable for unrestricted release. Limited testing to date of the SCWO system indicates that it can be adequate for the treatment of agent and energetics hydrolysates at BGCAPP. However, there has been no testing of the BGCAPP SCWO system for the treatment of dunnage. General Recommendation 1. PMACWA should continue with the existing design of BGCAPP and continue testing to address issues noted in the findings of this report. General Finding 2. The safety of BGCAPP workers and the public is an integral part of the design and the planned operation of BGCAPP.

OCR for page 58
Interim Design Assessment for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant General Recommendation 2. As the BGCAPP design evolves, the Army and the contractors making up the Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass Team should continue to make the safety of workers and the public a foremost consideration. General Finding 3. The unit operations in the BGCAPP design have never been deployed together as a single integrated process. As a consequence, and notwithstanding positive throughput analysis results to date, a prolonged period of systematization will be necessary to resolve integration issues as they arise, even for apparently straightforward unit operations. The committee believes the high availability demanded for process equipment that is either new or significantly different from existing equipment (e.g., the RSM) may be an unrealistic requirement. General Recommendation 3. The Army and its contractors should review the availability assumptions, especially for new or prototypical equipment, giving particular attention to the probability of prolonged outages from major failures—for example, an explosion in the RSM from accidental ignition of the propellant. General Finding 4. Much of the dunnage and secondary waste is not contaminated. General Recommendation 4. All uncontaminated dunnage and secondary waste should be sent offsite for disposal. Adequate documentation should be maintained to certify the status of waste with respect to its exposure to agent. General Finding 5. Use of SCWO for treatment of contaminated dunnage is still under evaluation, and only limited testing has been done to date. (The committee understands that uncontaminated secondary wastes will not be treated by the SCWO system.) In any case, before varied wastes can be sent in a slurry to the SCWO system, they must be shredded and micronized. The committee believes such treatment is problematic, especially given that the wastes could be sent whole to the MPT for treatment, which would probably be simpler and more reliable. General Recommendation 5. Alternative approaches for treating contaminated dunnage and wastes should be considered by the Army, with involvement by the public. One alternative to SCWO for treatment of contaminated dunnage is to treat it in the MPT to levels suitable for release to appropriate waste disposal sites. General Finding 6. The offgas treatment systems for agent/metal parts treatment and for energetics treatment still require development and testing to establish that all potential gas feeds can be treated. Furthermore, because the input streams have not been fully characterized, the composition of each of the effluent streams to be treated cannot be predicted. General Recommendation 6. The offgas flowing to the bulk oxidizer units should be fully characterized to determine the presence of compounds that may result in unacceptable reaction products—for example, polychlorinated dioxins or furans in the effluent from the treatment of energetics offgas. General Finding 7. The steps that have been taken at the Blue Grass Army Depot to date to involve the public have been significant. The public has played a role through its comments on the various licensing and permitting activities and can directly contact the Blue Grass Chemical Demilitarization Outreach Office to have concerns and questions addressed. Furthermore, it is represented by the Citizens Advisory Commission, especially its Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board. General Recommendation 7. The Army should continue to pursue and support public involvement. Furthermore, the involvement and collaboration of stakeholders (especially the public) should remain a cornerstone of the chemical weapons destruction program.